October 11, 2007

Does China Have Religion?

Slavoj Zizek, author of The Parallax View, writes on "How China Got Religion" in the New York Times. He discusses Communism avowed atheism as it relates to Falun Gong, the ukase regulating reincarnation, Burmese monks, and the commodification of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism:

In recent years, the Chinese have changed their strategy in Tibet: in addition to military coercion, they increasingly rely on ethnic and economic colonization. Lhasa is transforming into a Chinese version of the capitalist Wild West, with karaoke bars and Disney-like Buddhist theme parks.

The Dalai Lama spoke at Ithaca College. Read all about in the Ithaca Journal.

Burmese monks, as has long been rumored, have been defrocked. (I prefer this term to the more common 'disrobed' -- I've read too many accounts of concentration camps and gulags that used disrobed for non-clerical prisoners, so in a totalitarian context it doesn't convey being stripped of one's religion to me.) Perhaps we should say disrobed and defrocked:

Caged for more than a week at a former Government Technical Institute compound in north Yangon, the monks -- revered figures in the devoutly Buddhist nation -- were stripped of their maroon monastic robes and treated like common criminals.

"When one of us used a pronoun referring to himself as a monk, he was slapped," the monk said. "Then an interrogator said: 'You are no longer a monk. You are just an ordinary man with a shaven head.'"

Meanwhile other rebellious monks who were not taken into custody during the protests are still at large and in hiding and generally trying to keep out of the junta's reach but still do good work. I smell a 2009 movie plot in all this. But don't forget the horror that is still ongoing. Check the Buddhist Channel for updates.

Also, we've been sent and forwarded a certain email from inside Burma dated late September several times over the intervening weeks and we're pretty sure we've commented on it, but if not, it is reprinted here on lotusinthemud.

The Prison Book Ban has been more or less overturned, as noted here and on Danny Fisher's blog. Read more about it here from The Christian Century. It's still not clear whether the books were removed. This article seems to imply there were removed and now need to be returned. We'll see how that process goes!

- Philip Ryan, Web Editor

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[...] Slavoj Zizek , author of The Parallax View , writes on “How China Got Religion” in the New York Times . He discusses Communism avowed atheism as it relates to Falun Gong, the ukase regulating reincarnation, Burmese monks, and the commodification of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism: In recent years, the Chinese have changed their strategy in Tibet: in addition to military coercion, they increasingly rely on ethnic and economic colonization. Lhasa is transforming into a Chinese version of the capitalist Wild West, with karaoke bars and Disney-like Buddhist theme parks. [...]